Back Home in Beautiful Hawai’i Nei

I’ve been home for about a month and a half now!  I’ve been back at work since December 12th, and tomorrow — Friday — wraps up my second week of school.

I miss Delhi a lot.  More than things like the pani puri, metro, rickshaw rides, phalwalas, etc., I miss my host family and my friends.  Since I’ve been home my host family has called me three times, just to say hello.  I talk to my two good friends quite regularly.  One of them went home shortly after I left (that is, to Manipur) and I didn’t talk to him once while he was gone; turns out, there was some upheaval in Manipur during the time so the state blocked the Internet and all SMSs, allowing only phone calls (we talk through WhatsApp).  I figured he was busy with his family, but as soon as he got back to Delhi, he explained what had been going on and why he hadn’t talked to me in so long.  I really hope my host family and friends can make it out to Hawaii one day; I’d love to show them around and introduce them to novel foods and all that fun stuff.  Delhi was easily one of the best experiences of my life, if not the best. I learned a lot about myself there.

School is hard.  The MA program in Delhi was really different (though, my advisor did warn me about this).  In India there is the BA, MA, MPhil, and finally PhD; as a result, my MA program there was basically an extension of a BA program, which, despite collecting a wealth of knowledge while I was in India from my classes at Ambedkar that I can’t access in Hawaii, it hurt me because I am currently having a hard time adjusting to my work load for my MA program at my home university.  I’m sure I’ll balance everything in out by the end of next week.

I’m enrolled in two Museum Studies courses (Museums & Education and Public History & Commemoration; I find the latter far more interesting), a World History seminar, and third-year Hindi.  So far, quite honestly, Hindi is giving me the hardest time.  While I was in India, I did not hone my Hindi very much.  My listening improved by leaps and bounds, but my speaking really took a blow because I was always listening, but very rarely speaking.  Since the two good friends I made were from Manipur, they only spoke Hindi when they absolutely needed to; my host family only spoke to me in Hindi occasionally (I understand that it must have been difficult to bring their Hindi down to my amateur level).  Very few of my classmates knew that I could understand and speak Hindi, so they never spoke to me in Hindi (and this was not something I bragged about, just in case they did attempt to speak to me and I couldn’t understand).  As a result, I’m struggling in class, especially since I have not formally learned Hindi since last May.  It doesn’t help that I don’t like the TA.  She’s another linguistics scholar from JNU, but she’s different from the other two we had; to me she’s a bit condescending, as if she can’t quite understand why my Hindi isn’t as fluent as one of my other classmates (a Second Language Studies graduate student who taught English in Chennai).  She’s also laughed at my mistakes, which is something I don’t think an instructor should do, and which I took very personally and resented.  The other two TAs would laugh when I’d make silly mistakes, but they’d never blatantly laugh at a mistake I made purely as a result of a cognitive struggle.  I was contemplating dropping the class altogether but this is already the home stretch for me; I’m in Hindi 302 and 302 is the last of the sequence and I know I’d regret giving up just because I don’t like my TA.  I’m not quite sure why my professor isn’t teaching my class since she’s no longer on sabbatical.  My Hindi class is adding unnecessary work to my already heavy workload (I only need four semesters of a language for my degree) but I want to keep learning it because: 1) I genuinely enjoy learning languages, and 2) Out of spite, I want to do well and “stick it” to my TA.  Oh, and since it’s a 300-level course, the course is taught entirely in Hindi which makes it even more difficult for me.

Anyway, I’m happy to be home but I really miss everyone in Delhi.  I think of my friends daily.  Both of them called me while I was waiting for my flight at the airport and I cried at the gate talking to my friend on the phone, the stranger awkwardly sitting across me trying to avoid eye contact (haha).  But my friend and I had all the same courses, and we’d ride the metro home together every day after school (I’d get off at Rajiv Chowk and he’d continue to Hauz Khas).  On December 1st, I slept over at his house and we made typical Manipuri food for dinner with his sister and cousins.  The next day he took me on a whirlwind Delhi tour since I had done 0 sightseeing the entire time I was in Delhi; we went to the Red Fort and Qutab Minar.  We tried to get to the Lotus Temple but we missed it by ten minutes.  Driving me home, I asked to go to India Gate but the lights were off (it was about 7:00pm) to show respect for attacks that had occurred in Kashmir.  I went home the next day but I managed to go to one of his Church functions a few hours before my flight.  I surely did leave a big chunk of my dil in Dilli.

Little Things

There are some days that I cannot, and I stress, cannot wait to go back home.  Today was one of them.

I can’t stand how hot Delhi is.  I can just be standing at the metro station for three minutes waiting for my metro and I will sweat.  I will wipe my face, neck, and forehead with my cloth and in another minute, will be sweating again.  Even if I catch a rickshaw to me metro station (I do this when I’m leaving the house after it starts to get even hotter), I still sweat.  The only time I’m not sweating is probably when it’s pouring rain, and I am already soaking wet.

When I arrived in Delhi – and before leaving Hawaii, actually – I was told by everyone who had been to Delhi or who was from India to always use the women’s compartment on the metro because it is safer.  It is not.  In the two months I have been here, I have only been pushed once by a man, and it wasn’t even a man – it was a punky kid whom I shot a really nasty stink eye for deliberately pushing me when I literally could not move anyway because there were so many people in front of me trying to get into the metro compartment.  Other than that kid, I’ve only been pushed by women.  There have been times when we clearly are not moving, but some woman will push me anyway, thinking shoving me will somehow get everyone else in front of me to move so she can get wherever she is going.  The women’s compartment also drives me crazy because everyone has a large bag and will hit everyone else with it, and I’ve learned from experience that women do not care how full the metro is — if they need to get somewhere and CANNOT wait another to minutes – because they’ll absolutely die if they need to wait for the next metro! – they will squeeze themselves in even at the protest of the other people in the metro.  Three weeks ago when I was coming home from around Hauz Khas (it was about 6:30p/7:00p), the metro got so crowded that my arm went numb because it was stretched out and smashed between so many people.  This happened at the Yamuna Bank metro station because a group of girls forced their way in even despite people in the metro saying it was full and to wait.  They just needed to leave right then and there and the metro, like everyone had said, was too full and we sat there for about five minutes (not exaggerating) because the door wouldn’t close, precisely because the compartment was so full that a girl could not fit and the door kept closing on her.  Everyone was telling her to get off but she refused, delaying a metro full of hundreds of people for a time longer than it would have taken another metro to get there.  Oh, and last week, a woman grabbed my ponytail to brace herself so she wouldn’t fall.  I was standing next to a pole so she could have grabbed that, but instead she yanked on my ponytail.  Have you ever had a woman, a grown woman, weighing probably 150lbs, grab your hair to support her body weight so she would not fall down?  Then when I looked at her, she looked at me with a look saying, “Well don’t have hair for me to pull, then.”

And then there is the men’s compartments, which generally smell better anyway because the men wear cologne.  They do not have large purses that hit me in the face, and they do not shove me when they clearly see that I have stopped moving for a reason.  Instead of blatantly cutting in front of me while waiting to board the metro, more often than not, they will ask, “ma’am, are you getting on?” and when I say yes, they stand behind me.  Wow – manners!  Consideration!  They also don’t force themselves into a compartment that clearly cannot accommodate more people, because they are smart and probably considerate and do not want to make the people in the metro more uncomfortable than they already are, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with another stranger.  A few days after the woman in the women’s compartment pulled my hair, a man somehow grabbed my neck (again, I was standing next to a pole so I think he was trying to grab that and just missed).  This obviously startled me so I looked up and not even five seconds after his hand landed on my neck, the two men standing between us yelled at him and one of them grabbed his arm and yanked it away from me.  Shortly after, another group of men boarded the metro and since it was crowded, my face ended up buried in a guy’s shirt and I was trying to move my head away as to not drown in his dress shirt but also so I wouldn’t be rubbing my hair (again in a ponytail, but my hair is short so it’s very small) wouldn’t be in the face of the guy behind me.  Noticing this, the guy (who had yelled at the one who grabbed my neck), nudged the guy in front of me and motioned for him to move.  Lastly, at Yamuna Bank (I’ve grown to hate this station), another flood of people came in and the same guy was still in front of me, and when people came pouring in, he essentially held himself up against the pole and made a small barrier around me so I wouldn’t be uncomfortably pressed up against everyone coming in.  I did not ask for these things, yet he was nice the entire ride from Rajiv Chowk to my station.  Yet, people have been telling me to never use the men’s compartment because it is dangerous.  I get odd looks at times, but that’s less irritating to me than someone pulling my hair, elbowing me in the face and looking at me like it’s my fault, talking on the phone and yelling their conversation in my ear, or pushing me because doing so will obviously make the metro a more peaceful experience for everyone else.

Couples here also like to do asinine things like sit on the staircase at busy metro stations to make kissy faces at one another, effectively making hundreds of people walk around them.  But we get it, your private time in this very public place is more important than people going where they need to go.

Everyone laughed when I said I would be going to India because everyone who knows me knows that I generally hate people.  I have very few friends, but they are good friends.  I have a short fuse when it comes to people, and it is not difficult to get on my bad side.  I also very obviously to not like crowded places, because like any normal person, I do not like to go to places filled with things that I hate.  So, naturally, my family and friends said, “You realize you’re going to a place that is full of people?  Billions of them?”  I can handle it most days, but some days I just cannot.  Especially not when one of them pulls my hair (I really cannot get over this).

Delhi is charming in its own way.  I like it most days, but so far I really, truly, deeply favor Dehradun over Delhi, and I honestly do not really see myself coming back to Delhi for vacation…I’ll probably just spend a day or two here, then leave and spend weeks in other places that are less crowded, less hot, and devoid of incessant horn-honking.

I also really don’t like monkeys, and my university houses many of them.  About a month ago one of them looked me in the eyes as I tried to run past it (I’m afraid of monkeys, stemming from a childhood experience at the zoo) and grabbed my hand.  Then a few weeks later, as I was walking to class with a cup of coffee and unopened bag of cookies, another one ran circles around me and eventually started jumping at me, trying to steal my cookies.  Neither of these experiences has made me any more warmly receptive to monkeys.

“It must make you think of all the people you left at home when you put that kettle on the stove with just enough water for yourself.”

At my university, I’m taking four classes (unfortunately for me, these courses are worth four credits each since they meet for four hours a week, but since my university in Hawaii is on a three-hour schedule, I’ll only get three for each on my Manoa transcript): Problems of Historical Knowledge (a historiography course), Partitions in South Asia, the State in Indian History (state-building, state formations, transformations, transitions, some social/economic/political theory, etc.), and the Indian Ocean in History (the place of the Indian Ocean in the world, its influence on people and places, and their effect on it).  For my Indian Ocean course, my professor assigned In an Antique Land by Amitav Ghosh.  Immediately, I was drawn into the book.  I was just as curious (okay, maybe not “just as curious,” but I was curious) about the slave of MS H.6, as well as what would eventually happen to Ben Yiju.  I was less concerned about Ghosh’s contemporary account about his ethnographic work in Egypt during the ’80s (though it was still interesting).  Right before we started the book, my professor expressed that it is one of his favorite books and that it changed the way he looked at history (my professor’s area of expertise is the Indian Ocean, focusing on Tanzania and Kachchh).  It really is a great book.  The storylines in the book are great, but Ghosh does make important points in the book about historiography, human relationships (notions of difference), and modernity and tradition (among other things).

Besides it being a great book (I also went out and bought Sea of Poppies, Flood of Fire, and The Hungry Tide – I need to get River of Smoke), it made me think about what I am doing here.  To a far lesser extent, I am kind of doing what Ghosh was doing in Egypt — though, like a said, to a far lesser extent.  While I am not working on a dissertation, I am here for academic purposes, on a mission to find something (i.e., what exactly I will work on for my thesis).  Like I said…to a far lesser extent.  While finishing the book, I began to think about how I am currently cultivating relationships with people I would have never otherwise met.  Strangers have welcomed me into their home (although on a more structured basis) and I have breakfast and dinner with them every day, and will until December.  They ask me how my day was, they playfully speak to me in Hindi to get me to be less shy about speaking it, and on Mondays and Tuesdays I ride to Connaught Place with my host father and his daughter since we all start work/school around the same time.  There is one person from school I’ve become rather close to, and he was one of the first people to formally introduce themselves to me.  I was sitting alone outside of my university’s canteen one day after school; as I took out my Hindi notebook to brush up, he and his friend sat at the table and he just said, “You’re in MA history too, na?” and after that, we slowly started talking more and since we’re in the same classes, we see each other every day and normally do something after school once a week.  On Fridays he normally drives to school since our classes end at 6:00pm and doesn’t want to take the metro at a peak time, and he’ll drop me off at a metro station just three away from mine, shortening my travel time to about ten minutes from about what would have been forty-five.  I think about how he could have bypassed me like I bypass others (I never initiate conversations) but he was friendly, and he’s been kind since day one.  He took me to Vasant Kunj earlier in the week just so I could go to Om Books for the three additional works I bought by Ghosh.

I think about the people I’ve met here in just the first month and think about how these relationships can go.  I can go back to Hawaii and never see these wonderful people again or I can really put my heart into these relationships and they can be in my life for years and years after I leave Delhi.  I’d obviously prefer the latter.  It’d be even better if I could return regularly and see them, or if they could make it out to Hawaii.  It’s weird to think about how random my entry into some of their lives was, and how temporary my presence will be physically.  My host family is wonderful and I feel incredibly comfortable with them.  My friend here reminds me of my friends back home in how thoughtful he is (e.g., tugging my backpack and pulling me away from the road and cars, asking if I got home safely, etc.).  This is a very special time in my life and I don’t want old age to rob me of it down the road.  My co-worker gave me a diary (which I’ve been neglecting, unfortunately) and I’ve been trying to take pictures daily.  Inside the cover of my Sea of Poppies, I dated it and wrote that my friend had taken me all the way to Vasant Kunj after my incessant nagging and that he was likely late for his church choir rehearsal because of it.

Then, after I think about myself and my small network here, I think about other people that I know who travel frequently.  My professor, for example, does research in Tanzania and Kachchh, though more in the former.  He first went to East Africa when he was a little younger than me, and learned Swahili from a woman free of charge.  While he was there, she had a young child and to this day, he keeps in touch with them and has essentially seen that boy grow up over twenty years.  He has friends from all over East Africa, and all over India.  My friend (who was a Fulbright TA for my Hindi class for AY 2015 – 2016) has traveled extensively as well; he was born in Tamil Nadu, grew up in Aurangabad, did all of his college schooling in Delhi, then traveled to Egypt for part of his PhD work, Hawaii for the year he was with us, a cross-Europe trip after the semester wrapped up, Korea, and all over India.  I can’t imagine how it would feel to randomly enter those many lives and want to keep all of those people with me while continuing to move around from place to place.  It’s a great feeling to expand one’s world so much, I’m sure, but for me personally, I get attached to people quickly.  I’m not too sure what my point is in this post, really…perhaps that I simply realize that these are lives and people, not just characters in a diary, a blog, or photos on my iPhone.

City Fever

“This is the longest I’ve been away from my mother!” is what I tell people who ask me what I miss about home.

But what I forget is that this is just the longest I’ve ever been away from Hawaii.  I didn’t go away to college and whenever I take trips to see my aunt and cousins in Washington state, it’s never been for more than two weeks.

Delhi amazes me with its size — it’s somehow massive yet also so tiny compared to the rest of the country.  If you stand in Delhi, you’re swallowed up by it; if you look at a map, it’s swallowed up by Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, which aren’t even very large states to begin with.  I can spend four months in Delhi and not see everything.  You can spend a month on Oahu and see pretty much everything.  I don’t consider myself an “island girl” in the “iSlAnD GuRRl 808” sense, but that I cannot be away from it for too long.  I miss my drives to work and school and I miss how close everything is.  Getting from my host home in East Delhi to my university in Old Delhi takes about 45 minutes by metro; it takes me about 45 minutes from my work place in town to home on a day with normal traffic.  Pidgin has never sounded good to me.  Born and raised in  Hawaii, it’s something I heard a lot.  Most of my family utilizes Pidgin English to some degree; despite that, it’s still like nails on a chalkboard to me…except in Delhi.

What spurred this odd longing for pau hana traffic and Pidgin English were videos on Facebook made to poke fun at the moke culture.  Pidgin has never sounded so good to me!  I’m sure growing up in any of the states gives you a special culture and humor, but I truly feel that Hawaii is a bit different.  The types of communities that came over from all across Asia and the ways in which they intermixed and created new cultures is something very special, and something I always take for granted until I’m away from home for a while.  Even something as silly as not knowing that passion fruit and lilikoi were the same thing until I was in my 20s makes Hawaii feel more special to me.  Sure, I talk stink about the rail, the building of luxury condominiums, and $7 boxes of cereal, but sometimes I do think those things are worth what else Hawaii has to offer.  I don’t like the beach and I hate that Hawaii only has two seasons — summer and pseudo-winter — but I love its special foods like lau lau, pipikaula, and poke and that everyone is your aunty or uncle (this is true in India too, which makes me feel a little closer to home).

Aside from cuddling up in bed with my fiance and dogs when I go home, I want to eat Oahu’s best summer rolls at my favorite pho place (plug: Pho My Lien near Pearlridge) and go to Kalihi for one reason or another (the neighborhood in which I work).  I’m enjoying my time in Delhi, but peeking out the airplane window and seeing Oahu and knowing I’m almost home feels amazing as well.

Delhi x 8

I’ve been in Delhi for eight days now.  I already want to get out of the city.  Delhi is so crowded and busy and I’m totally not the city type.  Don’t get me wrong – Delhi is fun and it’s quite charming in its own way, but I’d like a break soon.  The girl who is with me on this study abroad program booked two tickets for us to Dehradun next weekend (it’s a three-day weekend in observation of Independence Day).  We’ll leave and take an overnight train to Dehradun and arrive at 5:00a on the morning of the 13th.  Our host dad runs a tourist business so he has a lot of connections, and luckily, he has one in Masuri where we will be staying.  After an hour-long bus ride, the nephew of the person in charge of the travel company our university is using will meet us up in Masuri.  He’s our age and has been seeing us every so many days to show us around.  He’s from Dehradun, too, which will be great once we return to Dehradun on Monday for our train back to Delhi.  He took me to Agrasen Ki Baoli today.  In short, Delhi is great but quite crazy and I’m ready for a break.

I only have one contact of my own in Delhi, and that is my Hindi TA.  He is from Maharashtra but works in Delhi, so I’ve been able to see him twice since arriving.  He got back to Delhi just a few days before I arrived.  He brought a nice guitar (valued $1,500+) to Hawaii from home but couldn’t bring it back since he did a cross-country trip from Washington to Florida then did a Europtrip from Spain to Germany before getting back to Delhi.  He cherished the guitar but was willing to part with it; I offered to bring it back because I didn’t want him to sell it as he had planned (I’m quite sentimental).  Anyway, he’s from Aurangabad and offered to host me in his hometown for three to four days to show me around.  A ticket from Delhi to Aurangabad is roughly Rs. 10,000 – 11,000 right now, which I can’t afford on my budget at the moment (I mean, I could, but I shouldn’t).  The plan right now is for me to fly to Mumbai during Dussehra (I’ll have a week off from school) and from there go to Aurangabad via train and return to Mumbai to fly back to Delhi.  He has a friend in Mumbai who has offered to put me up for a few days.  He’s been really helpful since I’ve been here.  I didn’t think he cared for me too much but I think that was me just being paranoid.  My birthday is right before Dussehra so he’ll be joining me in celebration.  Initially I told him that I wanted to go to Hauz Khas Village for my birthday and we settled on Summer House, but after a few minutes he suggested 4S in Defence Colony since the crowd is “better.”  By “better,” he means less hipster.  It works out anyway since I wanted Chinese food before leaving Hawaii but couldn’t get it since the dim sum restaurant near my house closed.  The beer and food there are cheaper, too.  And Chinese food is always great.

My classes formally start on Monday.  I went to campus on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of last week for an array of reasons.  I finally met my MA History batch of students on Friday and I like them.  I’m hoping I’ll make friends – I’m very quiet and I usually don’t make friends easily.  Before leaving for Delhi, many people who had been to India (including professors and classmates) told me that most people wouldn’t view me as a foreigner, but someone from Northeastern India.  I’m finding this to be very true as all of the acquaintances I’ve made at school have been from Nagaland and Manipur (and thought I was also from there).

Initially, I had booked my ticket for July 27th – December 17th.  The study abroad program ends on December 3rd.  At the time, my plan was to travel extensively by myself, mainly through South India.  I had two slight mental breakdowns earlier this week and this morning, I called to change my flight.  The woman with the company put me on hold for twenty minutes which effectively exhausted all of my talk time on my prepaid phone.  My boyfriend was nice enough to call and stay on the phone for two hours (TWO.  HOURS.) to change my flight and even put the charge on his card after I told him to use mine (a painful total of $1,052).  I know I didn’t give India enough time, but I don’t see myself being that adventurous now that I’m here.  First of all, I can’t “rough it” enough to go camping on a beach on the North Shore in a tent back in Hawaii, and I really can’t “rough it” enough to use these squat toilets or toilets with no toilet paper or toilets that look like they haven’t been cleaned since they were installed.  My mom’s craziness about germs has been passed on to me (although, not to the same extent).  India is great but I can’t deal with the public restrooms right now.  Also, I’m just too  distrusting of people.  All of the bad stories my coworkers, friends, and family put in my head before coming here really affected me and I don’t want to travel alone for two weeks.  I know most people here mean absolutely no harm, but I’m too paranoid to even put myself in a situation where I could be put in a dangerous situation even though it’s all in my head.  I’ve been ripped off a couple times by rickshaw walas (or today, a man selling purses in Palika Bazar) but they haven’t been malicious, and even though I paid more than what I should have, I contributed in some way to their living.

But back to the point, it isn’t India that’s making me leave.  I just really miss home, and I have a lot of things to go back to.  I love seeing my mom and brother every day, I love falling asleep and waking up next to my boyfriend and dogs, I love seeing my coworkers.  I have so many things at home waiting for me.  The girl who is with me is different.  She’s from San Diego and has been in Hawaii for school for the last four years, she’s single, most of her roommates moved back to the mainland, and she moved out of her apartment right before she left.  She’s a lot less attached than I am.  We’re both having fun, but she’s definitely having more fun and she’s more adventurous.  I know that changing my flight doesn’t help my effort to become more independent and outgoing, but I know where I belong, I think.  I’m an introvert, I’m quiet, I’m a homebody, and I only need my family…so, a typical person from Hawaii (haha).  My cousin is also having her first child – a boy – while I’m away (right before Halloween) so I really want to see him as soon as possible, too.  I’m having fun, but I know that I’m incomplete without my family, I guess.  My boyfriend has told me that although he misses me, he thinks I should get my mind out of Hawaii so I can fully enjoy Delhi.  We both think I’ll become less preoccupied with Hawaii once school picks up and I’m thrown back into my studies.

The last big development is that my boyfriend is no longer my boyfriend, but my fiancé.  Our anniversary was on July 20th and that was literally the last day I expected him to propose to me because I thought it was very cheesy.  We walked around Waikiki (and went Pokemon hunting…) and had dinner at an izakaya-style Japanese joint.  We went to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center looking for dessert and after a misunderstanding about dessert which left me grouchy, regretting buying a mediocre yuzu tea and staring wistfully at the Island Vintage Coffee shave ice stand I didn’t know existed at the base of the escalator from which I descended after buying said mediocre yuzu tea, he pulled a really beautiful .75carat three-stone princess cut ring out of his pocket.  I stared at him for probably a minute straight before saying anything.  He did get on one knee but I told him to get up as to not attract too much attention to us.  It turns out that he actually does listen to me when I talk sometimes!  I had only mentioned on one or two occasions that I like three-stone princes cut rings.  We’ve been together for five years.  For the better half of this year, I was really absent and our relationship suffered greatly because of it.  He was always trying to spend time with me and I just wouldn’t concede for one reason or another.  One night, I sat down and basically told him that I thought we should stop seeing each other for a number of reasons, and all he could say was that he didn’t want me to give up on him and that he loved me so much and just wanted me to give him more time.  After someone who’s treated you so well for five years looks at you, extremely hurt, and basically says “even though you may not love me anymore, I’m still head-over-heels in love with you and will wait until you feel the same again” (not his words, but the gist), you really reevaluate things.  I really have someone great, and he was so kind to me even after all of the times I had ignored him, snapped at him, and disregarded his feelings and desires because my mind was somewhere else.

Our wedding is in the works for next summer, either July or August.  Half of my family is in Washington and most of his immediate family (save his dad) is there as well, so we’ve asked my cousin to host our wedding at her home in Issaquah and she said she’d love to.  Her house is right up against the mountain and she has a very large deck that can accommodate a little over twenty people.  We don’t plan on having more than just our immediate families and his best man and my maid of honor (who is actually my friend Nick, who’s been my friend since we were eleven).  Her home is really beautiful.  I suggested having the wedding there as a joke but everyone in my family loved the idea, and Washington is a special place for us, so having our wedding in Washington and on my cousin’s backyard deck will make everything even more special.  We also plan to cook all the food ourselves since there won’t be more than fifteen of us at the most.  I also don’t want to spend too much money on the wedding for obvious reasons, and I only want family there because I don’t want to mingle.  I want my wedding day (ours, excuse me) to be about homecooked food and the company of family.

Abhi: Dilli mein

I’ve been in Delhi since the morning of July 29th — that is, not even a week.  For the first two and a half days we were put up in a hotel near Connaught Place.  On our first day in Delhi, Friday, we went around Delhi and saw Humayun’s Tomb.  Friday also included a cycle rickshaw ride through Old Delhi and Chandni Chowk.  On Saturday we trekked out to Agra for the Taj and Agra Fort.  The Taj, in all honesty, was a bit underwhelming for me (especially since it was under renovation).  I thought the drive through Uttar Pradesh was a bit more enjoyable.  That same night, after dropping out professor off at his flat, my study abroad partner and I went into Connaught Place where I had my first encounter with someone who set off all of my red flags.  Immediately after our guide, Priyav, departed to go back to his own home, a guy came out of nowhere and started asking us where we were from, how long we’d be in Delhi, where we were going, etc.  I answered the first question — regretfully — but ignored him after (quite rude, but I don’t think paranoia hurts when you’ve been in a country for less than twenty-four hours and are out in the evening).  My partner, however, kept talking to him because she’s friendly and too trusting and divulged to him where we were from, where we’d be studying, how long we’d be in Delhi, etc.  He began leading us away from the inner circle and where he was trying to take us was becoming less and less populated.  I told her we needed to go back for some bogus reason and he looked at me like I was being a total b*tch.  But like I said, I don’t think paranoia hurts when you’re in a completely new place.

On Sunday we settled into our home stay and the family is really great.  But being around a family made me really think about my own mother and brother, and no matter how nice the family is, they are not my family and it made me really sad.  I cried, as expected, and I cried again when I was finally able to get onto Skype with my boyfriend.  I know this will take adjusting, but I’ve never been away from my mom for more than two weeks, so that’s what I’m the most upset about currently.

We were briefed on the metro today and did our first run to the university and back.  We stopped off at Chandi Chowk for about two hours.  I finally haggled (for a kurti and rickshaw ride) and the fact that I’ve been using my Hindi more seems to also be positively affecting the prices I end up paying.

My TA has also recently arrived back in Delhi and has invited me to visit and stay with him in Aurangabad for a weekend in a few weeks.  He’s from Aurangabad but is based out of Delhi for work.  He was my Hindi TA for the last academic year and he was a great teacher.  He was really committed to really teaching me the language and I really appreciate that.  Plus, he has four dogs, and I really miss my two at home.

Travel Suggestions

Hi!

As I’ll be heading off for Delhi in three weeks (I’m so excited!) I’m beginning to seriously try to plan my excursions.  I’ll be based in East Delhi from July to December but would like to make my way out to Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab during the school semester.  I’m saving Gujarat for a school break around my birthday.  During the last two weeks of my stay (December 3rd through the evening of the 17th), my plan is to book a flight from Delhi to Kerala and from Kerala make my way back up to Delhi, passing through Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, spending most of my time in Rajasthan.  Any suggestions as to things I should see or do?  Or places to eat, since I’m not at all a closet foodie?  I’ll also be extremely grateful for any tips/suggestions regarding modes of transportation between the states (either plane or train, though I’m leaning more toward longer train rides as it means less money on hotels and a smaller credit card bill when I come home), safety tips for traveling alone (I’ll most likely be alone during my last two weeks), prices for everyday items/groceries/services, etc.  I’ve studied Hindi in school for the last two years so I’ll be able to communicate at least a little.  Any tips and suggestions are appreciated!  Thanks!

Also, this isn’t an “Eat-Pray-Love” thing.  I’m going to Delhi as part of a Study Abroad program and completing course work at a Delhi-based University toward my Master’s degree in World History with a South Asian focus.  With that being said, I’d also appreciate any suggestions for academic excursions as well!  The Archives have already been engraved into my list, in addition to a couple museums.  Thank you!